Congrats on your new job. Now shut up and listen.

April 20, 2012

I wanted to give some advice regarding starting a new tech job.  And I wanted to share it because lately i’ve seen far too many people that don’t understand this concept and it not only makes their lives harder, it also pisses off their new (any possibly new+former) employer.

Bonus is that it’s really simple to get right.  So here is my advice:

Shut up and listen.

Thats it.

Your new new team doesn’t want to hear you ask why they aren’t using Hadoop, or why they’re using an older version of Python.  They don’t want to listen to you talk about how in your previous company you used this amazing NoSQL thing and scaled their system for 10 trillion users.  They’re don’t want to listen to you explain the benefits of non-blocking I/O for their service layer.

Why is that?

Because until you understand the context and history of their decisions, you’re not in a position to voice any meaningful opinions.

That context and history could include many (good) reasons for doing what they did or requirements that you never thought of.

Instead, you should be trying to learn as much as you can.  Ask questions were relevant in a curious and inquisitive way.  Get some stuff done while you’re at it.

Then maybe you’ll realize some of those original opinions were wrong.  Or maybe not, but now you have the clout to voice them constructively as well as the knowledge to suggest solutions.

And the best part is that it’s actually less work to listen than it is to talk.